Some travellers enjoy visiting tried-and-tested destinations, mainstream tourist spots, and well-attended cultural activities.
Google Things to do in Ubud and you will find the Monkey Forest, Tegalalang Rice Terraces and the Royal Palace. Places that get overloaded with tourists every day. And yes, they certainly have some sort of appeal.
However, there are some of us whose ideal travel experiences involves everything quirky and unique. Mingling with locals, things tourists don’t see. Places where you get off the beaten path so to speak. If you have been to the beaches of Kuta, then you will know, I am talking the exact opposite of what you see there.
If you don’t like to be a tourist but a traveller, who walks down small streets where only local faces greet you, then here is a glimpse to a side of Ubud that few travellers get to see and you will love these things to do which are just waiting to be discovered.
Visit The Lotus Temple (Pura Taman Saraswati)
While everyone rushes to the Ubud Royal Palace, I suggest you skip it and go right next door instead!
Besides the stunning and intricate Balinese temple architecture, the real reason to visit the Pura Taman Saraswati is its surrounding ponds filled with gorgeous pink lotuses. Which make for an amazing shot when they are blossoming!
This is also one of the most accessible temples in Ubud as long as you know where to look. It’s located just behind the Lotus Café and Starbucks (yes, you will spot this!) so it’s a perfect stop for your walk along the main street Jalan Raya Ubud.
Other than the lotus ponds, you can also witness the traditional Kecak dance performance at this water temple at night time.
There are normally people at the entrance of the temple selling tickets, don’t be mislead, entry to the temple if free, they are only selling tickets to the traditional dance performance. Walk past them.
Find A Balinese Spiritual Healer
On Elizabeth Gilbert’s adventures in Eat, Pray, Love to Ubud, she wanted to find a traditional Bali healer and why wouldn’t you?
There have been many articles on the Internet about Ketut and Wayan, the healers starring in the book and movie, but I believe everyone needs to find a good match for themselves, so go look around, walk into some shops and see who you like. That’s how you will find the best treatment for you individually.
And once you do, you’ll open your eyes between colourful hindu offerings, traditional wooden furniture, worn out treatment beds, which all seem to add to the authenticity of Balinese traditional healing.
Visiting a healer seriously requires an open mind. This is an absolute unique thing to do in Ubud and you may have instances where you will be shocked things revealed to you, so be prepared and don’t take it all so serious.
Do a body reading to find imbalances in your body, come for a massage healing or pick up some traditional medicine. You just have to see it to believe it.
Walk The Scenic Trail At Campuhan Ridge Walk
This activity is great for just soaking in the beauty of nature and breathing in some fresh air.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is an entirely free trail stretching 9 kilometres over many hills just outside of Ubud. The trek will take around 2 hours and it’s often likely that you will have the trail all to yourself!
The best time to take this walk is during the early morning or late afternoon when the air is cooler and you’ll get to see the sky’s radiant colours during sunrise and sunset. If you want a break from the hustle bustle of Ubud’s center, this is the place to go.
Join A Downhill Bike Tour
A favourite thing of mine I discovered on my last visit to Ubud is the downhill bike tour with Bali Eco Cycling which wheels you all the way up to Bali’s highest point near the volcanoes where you start biking downhill to observe the rural life in Bali.
It all starts with a pickup from your accommodation and then off to have breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the stunning Mt. Batur and its lake. Then, a short drive and finally, you’ll be on your mountain bike to see the countryside.
There will be several stops wherein you will be able to witness the local life at Balinese homes and villages and as they work on the fields.
For confident bikers, there is an optional cycling workout around 6 to 8 kilometres over flat but mostly uphill trails. Learn about Balinese people and culture throughout the tour and finish it all off with a traditional Balinese lunch overlooking the jungle.
Stay At Bisma Eight
Continue your offbeat Ubud adventure as you lay your head down at Bisma Eight, a boutique hotel where modern design is in harmony with nature and makes for the perfect abode for any Ubud traveller who is looking for something different and outside the city center.
As a perfect example of old meets new, Bisma Eight is rooted in culture and heritage, creativity and reinvention. You are exposed to the Balinese culture through their activities like the Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, a lesson on Balinese traditional dance, a hands-on session of making the Canang Sari or Balinese offerings, and a cooking class on Balinese traditional cuisine.
And you can even learn how to mix your own drinks through the crafty Master Cocktail lesson. Bisma Eight also has an organic farm that you can tour. Here you have the chance to pick your own organic vegetables for your next meal.
Be sure to not miss the beautiful rooftop bar and restaurant called Copper Kitchen& Bar which makes for a perfect spot to savour on a delicious candlelit dinner.
At Bisma Eight you can find are three types of rooms.
The Garden Suites on the ground floor where you have your own private garden, the Canopy Suite, where I stayed, that provides a calming view of the lush green jungle, and the Forest Suites that has a treehouse feel to it and provides you with a lovely view of the sunset right from your balcony.
If you wanna eat your heart away, here is the Foodie Frenzy package or choose the Romantic Dinner package.
Bisma Eight even has a wedding package if you are looking at making your vows in a special place like Ubud.
Be sure to not miss breakfast as you will be presented with a stunning choice of fresh pastries, choice of eggs, pancakes, fresh fruit, coffee and more!
And to top it all off, yes, the hotel also has an amazing infinity pool overlooking the jungle. Sit on the edge and sip on a coconut, it’s pure life bliss!
If you fancy a workout, there is a fit space too. Yes, I did my morning excises in this small but fully-equipped space, pretty sweet!
Eat At Café Wayan & Bakery
Great food. Great service. Great spot. That’s what you’ll get once you enter the beautiful garden restaurant that is Café Wayan & Bakery, a wonderful thing to do in Ubud on an afternoon that will please your tummies.
It may not look so from the outside because of its humble and unassuming façade but wait till you walk in. The open air garden pavilions amidst blooming lotus ponds is the perfect place to grab a bite. They offer varied food choices including Indonesian and Balinese cuisine, Thai-inspired curries, Western dishes, homemade desserts and more.
Their specialty is the Prawns ala Ketut and for the sweet tooth in you, indulge in the Death by Chocolate Cake. Or anything else that is on display at the entrance! Another must-try is their Balinese smoked duck and the Indonesian rijsttafel which is actually a dutch invention and not quite so Indonesian at all.
Yes, the café was featured in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love but I still didn’t find it overloaded with tourists.
Take An Eco Tour At The Green School & Village
There is a certain charm when it comes to bamboo houses. Make that an array of bamboo houses each exquisitely designed to resemble a trendy abode that you would move into in a heartbeat.
The eco-focused Green Village will take you to a bamboo wonderland like no other in the world and it definitely deserves a place in this list of Ubud things to do. You can explore their school through their half-day guided tour that comprises of a walk through the bamboo school, the bamboo factory, and the Green Village where the impressive bamboo homes are situated and learn about sustainability and eco tourism.
Over 50 bamboo structures can be found here and each one will leave you in awe.
Relax At Yoga Barn
Located in the heart of Ubud, Yoga Barn is a place where yoga and holistic healing are the core.
There is so much the Yoga Barn can offer whether you’re a beginner or a pro in yoga or somewhere between. From daily classes to workshops on the different yoga style and day or week-long retreats.
If you are into naturopathy, chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and the like, then you will love to avail the services of its Holistic Healing Center. You can also get your fix on organic food at their Garden Kafe and your yoga essentials at The Yoga Shop.
Situated in the midst of lush rice paddies, organic farm and a jungle ravine, this green paradise will definitely nourish your mind, body, and soul. If you want to stay a little longer, consider putting you head down at their guest house.
Go On A Thrilling Swing Ride And Swim In A Waterfall
Just 20 minutes away from Ubud’s centre is the gorgeous Zen Hideaway, a 150-year old teak building that features an open air architecture and a refreshing Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic. It’s a riverfront villa where you have great views of the Ayung River, the valley and rice fields, and even a waterfall. Get €30 off your Airbnb booking with this link.
Perhaps the best experience you can get at Zen Hideaway is the thrilling swing ride atop a hill. With its height, this swing ride surely will be a heart-pounding experience and yet you’ll be wanting more and more.
Afterwards, head down to the waterfall or the river for a lovely refreshing dip. This place is super exclusive so you’ll have it all to yourself. If you are in search of serenity and peace, this is where you’ll find it!
White Water Rafting At Ayung River
Here’s something for adrenaline junkies. Get your splash on while rafting down the Ayung River, a memorable experience wherein you get to see wildlife peek through the untouched and unspoiled Balinese rainforest.
Cheeky monkeys swing and play on the trees. Birdsong echoes the foliage. But the real adventure begins when you hit the 45 rapids that will have you shrieking with excitement.
This white water rafting along the waters of Ayung River deserves a spot in your list of Ubud different things to do.
With all these awesome things to do in Ubud, why would you go and feed nasty monkeys?